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Needs Versus Wants In Marriage
Focusing on what your marriage needs rather than its shortcomings can make all the difference.


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Getting what you want and what you need are two different things—and often enough.


"You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need…"

That Rolling Stones refrain is playing in my head repeatedly of late and it seems clear that this is as true a love song as I have ever known. Although I would never have thought it in my earlier years, what I know of love is that it is actually rarely about what you want. Growing up and cultivating a sustainable love with your spouse is mostly about learning how to accept what you get, turn it into what you want or at least embrace it as what you need.

The song continued repeating as I struggled with finding peace in my relationship with my father; a difficult man, a pain-filled childhood, and years of resentment and hatred all coming together at every meeting. In the past the feelings were justified responses to not getting the compassionate and loving attention that we all crave. This time, the pain was about bearing witness to my own struggle. Hatred and resentment rarely impact the object of our feelings, but instead keep us stuck in the same habitual patterns that we have come to know as "relationships." I will never get what I want from that relationship, but I am starting to know how to look for what I need.

This song has been a love song in my marriage for decades. Learning how to see the relationship that we have as the one we need instead of resenting the shortcomings of the one that we wanted is a lifetime effort. It is easy to be confused and to want to refuse the love that a spouse can give if it doesn’t look or feel the way that we want it to. This happens most frequently in my marriage when I am deep in my own battles with my own demons.

When we are most lost to ourselves and unable to accept our weaknesses or recognize our strengths, all of the places where our closest relationships fall short become unbearable. It is so painful to recognize the moments when we are incapable of loving that blaming the other is often a premeditated survival mechanism. Often the response is so habitual that we don’t even have the time to choose a different response.

Getting to what you need in a relationship and giving up the fantasies of what you want is the key to staying and doing the daily work of connecting. And although getting what you need might not feel as good as what you want, it is enough.

Wendy Strgar is the founder of GoodCleanLove.com, which provides products and advice for sustainable love. If you have questions about products or toys send them in and Wendy will be happy to share her knowledge. When visiting the website, use coupon code NEWSITE08, to enjoy a new year 15 percent discount.


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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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